SOPP592: I find that looking at the same exercises again after 10 weeks of doing them, gives me more confidence that things are getting better
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
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A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 592 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Amir, and he writes:
Thanks for your email!
What I have now in my schedule is a daily time to practice sight reading. It does not take more than 15 minutes daily. At the same time I am redoing the exercises I have done 10 weeks ago. I find that looking at the same things again after 10 weeks of doing them, gives me more confidence that things are getting better.
Most important benefit is for me to be regular in the sense of the beat pulse, and I think this is not beneficial for sight reading only but for music interpretation in general. It is better to do an intended "rallentando" than to slow down because the passage is just difficult.
In addition these exercises are allowing me to predict to a certain extent my capabilities to keep a steady tempo in a piece of music. Looking at difficult passages and to have a certain estimation about how things can go, can help me to be steady.
Changing to unexpected notes and rhythms is always tricky. Hoping that I am getting better.
V: So, Amir is in our Organ Sight-Reading Master Course, Ausra.
V: And it seems that he’s spending 15 minutes a day, every day, and seeing regular practice, and seeing also regular progress, and he is actually checking the progress by playing exercises from 10 weeks ago.
A: I think that he touched some very important points that I think could be beneficial to many of us.
V: Such as?
A: Such as that spending 15 minutes every day on something is very important. It’s more important to spend 15 minutes a day on a regular basis than to spend let’s say 3 hours once a week. I think such a case, if you spend some time every day regularly, you’ll see progress much faster.
V: I have another point to make about his rallentando, conscious rallentando and conscious change of tempo. If you have to slow down, you have to know that you are slowing down, and if that piece of music changes, direction changes rhythms and pulse, you have to be quite conscious about it. Right?
A: Yes, definitely! Your technical difficulties cannot dictate the tempo of the piece. If you can play it fast but some difficult passages you have to slow down, it means this tempo is too fast for you, and you need to play the entire piece in a slower tempo.
V: To me, when I’m playing a rhythmically difficult piece, it helps me to play really really slowly at first. Do not speed up the passage before I can play it comfortably. Do you find it useful, too, Ausra?
A: Yes, although sometimes I lack either the time or the patience to do that, but I see what you are doing, and I think it’s very beneficial.
V: It takes time and patience, as you say, but you reap rewards! You see how the piece of music is getting better and better, maybe not daily, but probably weekly progress can be noticeable. Right?
V: A lot of people don’t have the patience to do this, but one week is not that long, right? You can come back to a difficult passage after one week and play it through, and see that it’s not that difficult anymore.
A: That’s right. I think it’s always good to go back and to play, let’s say, the same thing that you played a week ago or two weeks ago, and you will see how much better you are.
V: And for your repertoire in general, I think it’s better to refresh it once in a while regularly. Keep it under your fingers and under your toes, because then you expand your repertoire, not just discarding it by learning new pieces every time, but you’re expanding your baggage of tricks.
A: Yes, as you said, to keep it under your toes, I didn’t know that you play with your toes! I thought that you played with your feet!
V: Oh, I have excellent toe technique! Five toe technique!
A: Could you play a trill with your one foot using different toes?
V: I can play two trills! Double trills!
A: That’s funny.
V: You know, I sometimes marvel at organists who play, or can play long recitals very frequently like maybe once a week or twice a week of difficult and different organ music every time, and I wonder what’s their secret. And the secret probably is refreshing their old material once in a while, frequently, while also learning something new!
A: Well, he keeps asking me, “How can we do this? How can we do this? Tell me how can we do this?” And I’m just saying that they are more talented and more hard working than you are, so that’s the secret.
V: Yeah, there is one Dutch organist whom I admire. Minne Veldman… I had to think about spelling of that name… but ok, Minne Veldman. And he plays like twice a week on YouTube, one hour long recitals, sometimes from his living room with Hauptwerk, sometimes from different churches. It's just superhuman to me. Don’t you think? And I asked him in a comment, “What is your secret? How are you able to play like three recitals per week?” because recently he posted three recitals. He actually answered, although he’s very well known and very popular, probably gets a lot of comments like this. But he answered, “Just keep playing and studying large repertoire.” This is true, right?
A: Yes, this is true!
V: Simple, yet effective.
A: You cannot expand your repertoire if you will sit on the couch all day long watching TV.
V: And talking about expanding repertoire.
A: And talking about playing.
V: Yeah. We all suffer from this, right? We see big names and try to emulate them and imitate them, but when it comes down to doing the work, there is no substitute.
V: Thank you guys, this was Vidas,
A: And Ausra!
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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